New Orleans—Today, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) announced the settlement of a federal lawsuit against the owners and operators of a Westbank apartment complex, alleging the property manager refused to rent to African Americans on multiple occasions. During litigation, the property manager at the Dorian Apartments admitted that she had not rented to an African American person in her 32 years on the job.
As a result of the settlement on behalf of GNOFHAC and two individuals, defendants will pay $85,000 and the property manager will be permanently banned from the management of apartments.
A white tenant first reported the 10-unit complex in Harvey, Louisiana to GNOFHAC in November 2014 after witnessing the property manager refuse to shake hands with his African American friend and tell him that no units were available. His friend then asked about a wait list, and was told one did not exist. The complainant later witnessed the property manager tell an African American teenager – inquiring about vacancies on behalf of his mother – that no units were available when the complainant knew an apartment was vacant.
GNOFHAC conducted an undercover investigation of the complex’s rental practices using mystery shoppers. The lawsuit alleged that the property manager repeatedly misrepresented the availability of apartments to African American mystery shoppers while simultaneously offering open units to similarly qualified white mystery shoppers.
Cashauna Hill, GNOFHAC Executive Director, comments, “Unfortunately, these kind of insulting and discriminatory practices are not uncommon in our rental market. For those who benefit from and often witness this behavior, we implore you to come forward as the complainant in this matter did. Racial discrimination in housing is illegal and anyone who suspects they may have been discriminated against or witnessed discrimination should report their suspicions to the Fair Housing Action Center.”